Development, at the end of the day, is all about improving the quality of life
Many factors contribute to the alarmingly high levels of air pollution in the country, but some of the worst offenders are the brick kilns which operate illegally. It is good to see that the Department of Environment, at long last, is all set to demolish about 700 illegal brick kilns. This will not definitively cure the nation of the scourge of air pollution, because many other factors remain to be addressed, but it is certainly a decisive step in the right direction.
After the pandemic first broke out and lockdown was introduced, there was a temporary improvement in air quality, but regrettably, pollution has gone back up. Now, in the dry season, it is worse than ever, and along with winter, there come the usual winter-time ailments, which are strongly related to pollution. Various respiratory diseases are a direct result of poor air quality, and this puts a strain on the health care system. The health system right now, of course, already has enough on its plate.
In 2019, Bangladesh had the worst air quality in the world according to the 2019 World Air Quality Report. Dhaka was second among capital cities. While we pursue economic growth, and construction projects go on unabated, air pollution worsens day by day, diminishing the quality of life. The issue of air quality, however, cannot become an afterthought, because development, at the end of the day, is all about improving the quality of life.
The quality of life, in turn, is strongly connected to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the environment in which we live. Developed nations of the world have long understood this. Singapore, an economic powerhouse, makes it a top priority to protect the environment, plant trees, and keep the air clean. It is a valuable lesson we would do well to learn.